|While Chinese food may
be the draw at this midtown eatery, it is Joe's miraculous optical
illusion that really got me. The thing looks like a little, dinky
joint from the outside, but is a sprawling multi-level metropolis
of bad Chinese decor on the inside. It's as if the early-eighties
exploding all over the place. Whoever said dusty rose walls were a
good idea was probably the same person who ordered the vinyl seat
covers and the bent fork I got for my chicken and mixed veggies. I
also believe there were skylights in the room in which we sat, which
is about as good an idea in New York City as an air intake duct blowing
into the dining room of a joint in Elizabeth, NJ. These gripes and
illusory references aside, I have to say that I very rarely eat Chinese
food in-house anyway. I can probably list on one hand the number of
Chinese restaurants in which I've actually sat down to eat in Manhattan.
It's not only the nature of the food (and their terrific lunch specials),
but also the relative lack of ambiance and care in their general cleanliness
that makes me want to take that plastic bag back to my desk or apartment.
There's just something a wee bit depressing about the paper calendar
decor, clearance sale chairs and stained tablecloths at most Chinese
joints. It's not that Joe's is dirty like that, but mix just a little
of that with the curt, grumbly service and slightly downtrodden clientele,
and you have a good facsimile of the stereotypical Chinese lunch experience.
My food was just okay, although it was mostly my fault for not asking
if the chicken item, which typically comes in a brown sauce, did in
fact come in a brown sauce. Dude, Chinese in white sauce just sucks.
It's like eating boiled chicken in soapy dishwater. Oh well, thank
God there are like 500 other Oriental cuisine choices in the immediate